As a student nurse, you are the eyes and ears of so many different placement settings. Each area you will go, you will see good and bad practice. It is important to speak up, in a professional way. Nonetheless, if you do not feel comfortable in talking to that person (committing the bad practice), go to the next person in line. There will be a practice placement manager you can talk to in confidence, or your university team. You could even wait until you have finished your placement to say something about what you may have witnessed. Anything from bad manual handling (not using slide sheets is the big one!) to drug errors and poor treatment of a patient. Do not feel that, because you are ‘JUST a student nurse’ that you are not valued and that you do not have an opinion. It is quite the opposite. Furthermore, as a student, you have the power to speak up and be protected by your university.
It is time for change in nursing and this starts with us. Do not just ignore these practices, say something or do something. Sometimes, all it takes is one brave person to speak up to make a change and prevent risk to our patients. However, you must go about this is in the correct way. For me personally, I know the fear of slide sheets on the wards. Nurses do not use them enough and this is horrendous for our backs and patient safety! So, what I did on my first placement; I was shown around the ward on my first day and I had noticed there were no slide sheets out next to any patients that needed them… and I simply asked, ‘where do you keep all of your slide sheets?’ I was shown to the cupboard where they were kept and then I grabbed a handful and took them around to every patient who needed one. I did this for two reasons; firstly, to ensure there was one ready when needed and secondly, there could be no excuses not to use one. I stomped out the bad practice before I had even seen it. This is also a great way to show in a professional way what your standards are as a student nurse without having to question anyone. It is about the way you talk to others and the way you approach a situation. If you do it in a way that is professional, you should not have an issue.
So please students, be the future of our nursing. I ask you to protect yourself and your patients. Always. Let us stomp out the bad and only bring in the good whilst being professional. Let us give nurses a great name again.
(Claire Carmichael – student nurse)